Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Roberts v. Girder

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division

February 17, 2017

WILLIAM ROBERTS, Administrator of the Estate of PAULINE ROBERTS, and POLLY ROBERTS WILLMAN, Administratrix of the Estate of WILLIAM ROBERTS, Plaintiffs,
EDDIE GIRDER, et al., Defendants. [*]



         The Plaintiffs, Polly Roberts Willman, in her capacity as the Administratrix of the Estate of William Roberts, and William Roberts, as Administrator of the Estate of Pauline Roberts, (“Plaintiffs”), bring the present complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that, in order to advance a re-election agenda, various constitutional and state law harms occurred when the defendants, government officials from the city of Somerset, Kentucky, (“City Defendants”), conspired against Williams Roberts and demolished the Roberts family property.

         Among other things, Plaintiffs allege that City Defendants violated their procedural due process rights by summarily ejecting Williams Roberts from the family property and destroying it without proper notice or a hearing. City Defendants filed a motion to dismiss (DE 17) the procedural due process claim. Plaintiffs then filed a motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 17(a)(3) to substitute Rachelle Bombe and Polly Willman, along with William Roberts, for the Estate of Pauline Roberts.

         After briefing, a hearing in this case was held on September 29, 2016. The matter is now ripe for review. For the foregoing reasons, City Defendants' motion to dismiss (DE 17) will be granted, and Plaintiffs' motion to substitute (DE 22) will be denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The following facts are taken from Plaintiffs' Complaint.

         Pauline Roberts died intestate on November 17, 1989 (Compl. ¶ 8). She was survived by her three children: her son, William, and two daughters, Polly Willman and Rachelle Bombe. (Compl. ¶ 10). Before her death, Pauline Roberts owned real property located at 117 Sagasser Street in Somerset, Kentucky. (Compl. ¶ 9, 17). William Roberts lived with his mother in the final years of her life at 117 Sagasser Street and continued to live on the property after her passing.

         On May 3, 2013, Somerset City Attorney Carrie Wiese mailed a certified letter addressed to the “Estate of Pauline Roberts” containing allegations that the dwelling was unfit for human habitation, occupancy, or use. (Compl. ¶ 23). The letter also notified the recipient that a nuisance abatement hearing to address the property's condition was set for 1:40 p.m., May 23, 2013, at Somerset City Hall. Five days later on May 8, 2013, William Roberts signed a return receipt for the letter, and he subsequently hired an attorney, John Prather, Jr., to represent him at the hearing. (Compl. ¶ 26). Once retained, Prather sent a letter to Wiese advising her of his representation and informing her of a property remediation plan that William Roberts was in the process of preparing. Prather also notified Wiese of a scheduling conflict that he had with the day and time of the scheduled hearing. (Compl. ¶ 37). Wiese agreed to postpone the hearing, but no new date was ever set. (Compl. ¶ 38).

         On May 23, 2013, however, Prather met informally with City Attorney Wiese, along with Somerset Building Inspector Wes Finley and Somerset Zoning Officer Dennis Crist at City Hall. (Compl. ¶ 44-45). At the outset, Wiese directed Tracy Stevens, an employee responsible for taking and keeping all official records during nuisance abatement hearings, not to take minutes of the meeting, as it was “off the record.” (Compl. ¶ 45). The informal meeting proceeded, and the participants discussed a possible remediation plan for the Roberts property.

         Over the next fourteen months, Roberts made little effort to address the City of Somerset's concerns with the Roberts property. It was during this period, however, that Plaintiffs allege the gears of the government began to turn in the plot to rid the City of Somerset of the alleged property nuisance.[1]

         The Complaint states that in August, 2014 Zoning Officer Crist approached Tracy Stevens demanding records of the May 23, 2013 Roberts property nuisance abatement hearing. Tracy Stevens, the record keeper, informed Crist that she did not take notes at the hearing because she was told not to. (Compl. Ex. F, Stevens Affidavit at ¶ 9) (“Mrs. Wiese specifically told me the meeting was ‘not official' and directed me not to take any notes or otherwise record the meeting.”).

         Shortly thereafter on August 14, 2014, Roberts received a letter from Crist that stated a nuisance hearing was held on May 23, 2013. It reads in full:

Please be advised that a hearing was held at Somerset City Hall on Thursday, May 23rd, 2013, pursuant to notice mailed and posted, regarding the above referred to property. You were represented by your attorney Mr. John Prather.
Evidence was introduced by Somerset building inspector Wes Finley, the said property is a hazard and structurally unsafe for human habitation.
Since nothing has been done to correct these issues, you are hereby ORDERED to repair or vacate said property within 30 days of the date hereof. Otherwise, the City of Somerset will take whatever action is necessary to eliminate this problem.
The City of Somerset is willing to assist in helping you move your belongings and providing a storage unit at no cost to you. We will also take care of the dilapidated structure at no cost.

(Compl, Ex. G.).

         On September 16, 2014, Roberts received a second letter warning him that property had to be vacated at once. (Compl., Ex. J.) The letter also listed several evidentiary findings that were found at the alleged May 23, 2013 hearing. (Compl. Ex. J.). Roberts did not respond to either letter, though Plaintiffs do not dispute that he received them. Plaintiffs allege Mr. Prather never received notice of the letters because his name was excluded on the letters. (Compl. ¶73). On September 19, 2014, the City demolished the Roberts residence.

         II. ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.